B.M. Burgoon
M. Hiscox
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The strange politics of compensation: individual attitudes on trade adjustment assistance in the United States
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Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This paper investigates the politics of trade adjustment assistance - income, training and relocation assistance for workers losing their jobs due to trade openness. We develop and test the argument that such assistance might have a politics distinct from those of the welfare and trade policies with which it overlaps. First, we argue that imperfect substitutability between trade adjustment assistance and trade protection, combined with the political linkage between such assistance and liberalization, encourages strategic position-taking among voters as well as policymakers. The result is that opposition to trade liberalization tends to weaken support for trade adjustment assistance among individuals who, owing to their economic circumstances, stand to gain the most from such assistance. Second, we argue that left (liberal) self-identification and partisanship reflect normative values and causal beliefs that are partly independent of economic self-interest and are strong predictors of individual support for trade adjustment assistance. These arguments find empirical support in the history of lobbying and legislative bargaining over the U.S.Trade Adjustment Assistance program since 1962, and in more extensive analysis of data on individual attitudes towards trade adjustment assistance among American voters.